Government has marginally increased the allocation for the Ministry of Information, Postal and Courier Services from $6, 25 million (2016) by 9 percent to US$6, 34 million for 2017 while interventions in the sector received $17 million.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Presenting the National Budget, Finance and Economic Development Patrick Chinamasa last week hinted that technology was fast becoming a key driver of Zimbabwe’s economy hence the increase in funding towards the sector.
“The rapid spread of digital devices and greater internet access in both urban and rural areas is enabling dissemination of critical information and knowledge that empowers households and other institutions in various activities,” he said. “The Budget allocation of US$17.1 million targets interventions in the sector, with US$12.8 million targeting e-Government programmes, whilst US$4.3 has been set aside for employment costs and operations.
“Taking advantage of developments in the ICT sector, Government will establish an E-Government platform that will enhance access to Government information and services, that way promoting transparency and efficiency in public services delivery,” said Minister Chinamasa.
He added that fiscal resources amounting to US$6.9 million would be used to set up the National Data Centre to support the roll out and use of E-Government services by citizens, which should contribute towards the easing the cost of doing business in the country.
“Furthermore, the Universal Services Fund will earmark US$11.7 million towards the setting up of 70 Community Information centres in rural service centres, roll out of computerisation and E-learning facilities to 1 300 schools, and introduction of tele-medicine facilities in 20 rural health centres.”
“Under the US$98 million National Backbone and Broadband Access Project, already underway, TelOne will expend US$47.4 million in 2017 on extending the bre optic network to unserved areas, including upgrading the data centre and Centralised National Operations Centre, among others,” he said.
He also said TelOne with its own resources will , “also avail US$26.8 million towards last mile connectivity, value added services equipment and facilities, all aimed at ensuring better services to clients and business growth.”
Chinamasa added, “This intervention is in addition to the NetOne Network Expansion Phase II project where NetOne is expected to drawdown US$40 million from a China Eximbank loan to cover all the remaining works on the project. ”